We are all stories, right? We tell a new story, the same story, another story all the time and we do it in the class too.
Today I’m going to mention activities that can be used to create new stories for the theme “Using Photos in EFL Classes”.
You can either ask your students to bring some photos they have taken or you can choose the photos you’ve taken or as usual, go to #ELTpics and tell them to choose the pictures they want to think about and write their stories.
“Photography takes an instant out of time, altering life by holding it still.” Dorothea Lange
Visuals are useful and powerful tools to enhance the use of language, combining the images and the concepts they refer in the minds of the learners. Photos, as all visual images, also encourage the learners to predict and guess the story of the photo they are looking at. It is easy to bring the real world into the classroom and talk and discuss about it.
Today’s children love taking photos. They love taking “selfies” but they also take photos of everyday objects, food, the place they live, the place they visit and they don’t need a camera for taking photos anymore. They don’t even need to go somewhere to develop them to bring into the classroom. There is even no need for a printer, a computer as long as they have a smart phone, Internet connection and Google Tools to share it with you and their class mates. Moreover, as they are addicted to use the phone and can’t live a minute apart from them, why shouldn’t we take advantage of this and challenge them?
I think we can ask them to take their own photos or we can bring the ones that we have taken or chosen from other people’s sets. I’d suggest #ELTpics for projects with photos if you don’t want to use your own photos or the student photos.
In the early years the photos can be used to
Teach, revise vocabulary
Drill the target language
Describe the photo
However in the advanced levels photos encourage students to write and tell stories, to discuss certain issues, and do a lot more things.
So I’m planning to write a few posts on using photos in the language classrooms. I will list some activities that can be used with any level.
Caption Writing Project
Tell students to take photos on their way home or at the weekend, etc.
You can guide them to take photos of food, supermarkets, street markets, people commuting in the morning, etc.
Start a Google Slide and share with your class.
Tell students to upload their photos to the slide.
Depending on the size of the class, divide students in teams and give each team a set of photos (depending on the number of photos uploaded)
Tell each team to write captions for the photos they have for their teams.
Choose the best photo, best caption, the most creative caption, etc. (optional)
You can print them out and create a class display.
You can download the Slide as pdf and upload the file to “youblisher” and create an ebook that can be shared or embedded to your class blog or school website. This very easy activity can be turned into a class project as well.
If you decide to continue the project all year long, you may then decide to print the sets and turn them into a printed “class catalogue”.
Nowadays there is a TV commercial of a fizzy drink that we talk a lot about. The dances used in the commercial is Bollywood style and we have just come across the original song on YouTube and it was not a surprise to find out that the song was from a Bollywood movie. The lyrics are in English but when I first listened I thought they were in Indian. Only when I focused, I caught the words. Then the idea emerged in my mind. Alas, it’s the end of year. I will not be able to use it this year but for the coming academic year, the song is on my list.
Using paper, prepare heart-shaped cut-outs, as shown below.
Give students the handout. Ask them to complete the categories with the given words, phrases. Or you can prepare your own categories according to your students’ likes.
A piece of cake, a piece of chocolate, a piece of apple pie, a slice of pizza, a big hamburger, a parrot, a tiny kitten, a friendly dog, goldfish, sister, brother, grandmother, friend, cousin, a cup of hot chocolate, a cup of tea, a glass of fruit juice, sea, mountain, lake, river, city, town
Then give them heart-shaped cut-outs and tell them they are going to create their heart-shaped books. On each heart they will write
Love is …
and continue with the phrases from the categories or they can add their own words or phrases. Tell them to illustrate and colour their books.
I am working with graded readers, short stories and novels with my classes. I was also preparing my talk for TESOL France and looking for some new ideas to share, I designed the following lesson inspired from Chaz Pugliese’s Gossip activity from the book Being Creative. The activity may not sound similar but while reading it, I just thought this will be a fun activity. I’m planning to do it this week with my 12th graders.
Level: B2 and above
Put students in 3s
As and Bs will speak
Cs will eavesdrop and take notes while As and Bs are talking.
A and B are characters from the novel/short story you’re reading in the class.
Tell them they are going to gossip about another character from the story.
For example: Squealer and Napoleon gossip about Boxer (Animal Farm)
Cs are either a passerby, a student from your class or a 4th character from the story. They will take notes of what they’ve heard and will inform the class after the activity.
Variation: If the students will not be able to improvise, you can put them in 3s and give some time to write the dialogue. Then Cs from each group go to listen to another A and B’s gossip.